Gas and Hot Air

President Barack Obama clearly wants to encourage the increased production of green fuels and reduce the use of crude oil and fossil fuels.  According to Fox News he recently ignored a court ruling about the Environmental Protection Agency’s 2012 production standard for cellulosic biofuels, and stood by the ruling the EPA made just this month to increase the production standard.

From Yahoo News. A tractor dumps ethanol rich corn into a pile to be taken to a plant where it will be processed and refined, eventually to become cellulosic biofuel.

In 2012 the production standard was set at 8.7 million gallons. The US Appeals Court for the District of Columbia embarrassed Obama and the EPA by ruling against the requirement of this standard and reportedly reasoning that such a ruling was appropriate be the production standard set by the EPA was not based in sound reason but rather, on wishful thinking.

In response to this ruling, President Obama supports a new biofuel production standard of 14 million gallons for 2013.

Bob Greco, a director at the American Petroleum Institute is quoted as saying to Fox that the “”EPA needs a serious reality check,” [and] the mandate [is] a “stealth tax on gasoline” and an “egregious example of bad public policy.”

Greco has the facts on his side.  In 2012 no cellulosic biofuels were produced – none whatsoever.  This year there are a few plants going into cellulosic fuel production, and so spokespersons at the EPA believe that their estimate is conservative.

They responded to criticism, and the court ruling that was outright insulting and mocking, by saying that those in opposition to requiring such seemingly high production standards are simply afraid that the oil industry will be replaced.

Considering this situation from a stakeholder model of communication, there are clearly opposing interests from both groups concerning what should be executive policy.  In Effective Crisis Communicaiton, Ulmer et. al. clear and effective communication is important when stakeholders perceive that a certain policy or action is inappropriate.

Further, Ulmer et. al. would describe the method of communication being utilized by both the EPA and the White House as blame shifting.  There was clearly wrong policy endorsed by Obama’s administration according to the ruling of the US Appeals Court for the District of Columbia.  Instead of accepting this ruling, the Obama administration has chosen to move forward with federal mandates that ignore the ruling, and further to belittle those who have an opposing view of things.

Ulmer, Robert, Timothy Sellnow, and Matthew Seeger. Effective Crisis Communicaition. Sage Publications: Thousand Oaks, Ca. 2011.
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3 comments on “Gas and Hot Air

  1. camschieldt says:

    The US Appeals Court made a quick decision which, as you said, embarrassed the Obama administration. Whether this was the intended effect or not, they made a decision that was what they believed to be for the best interest of all involved publics. Here is an article about Obama’s control over oil prices I thought you might be interested in – http://lubbockonline.com/interact/blog-post/may/2012-03-12/president-obama-has-much-control-over-oil-prices#.URV0W_KDmSo.

  2. I may not fully understand the situation but I do see Obama’s idea of raising the production of biofuels to protect the environment. After reading the story, I believe it was smart from them to show all the positiveness of this new rule. From a PR perspective I think Julia Valentine through out there a good comment that would leave the mad stakeholders hopeful, she said: “This projection reflects EPA’s current estimate of what will actually happen in 2013,” she said, adding that EPA will consider public comments before setting the final cellulosic standard.”She explained and made it clear that it is an estimate and that the final cellulosic standard is yet to be defined and that they are opened to listen to their stakeholders.

    As in Obama’s administration, it seems like they handle it poorly and like you said seems like they do not care about their stakeholders. One way they could of made it work better was to state what Julia Valentines said consider public opinion and thoroughly explain why it is possible and what benefits there are for the stakeholders. Keeping stakeholders in mind, should be one of the organizations decision making priority.

    Here is a link that talks about the importance and what protection to stakeholders is:

    http://www.sei.cmu.edu/library/abstracts/news-at-sei/securitymatters20054.cfm

  3. I find President Obama to be full of hot air as well, Nathan, especially in the case that you brought, supported by the Ulmer text. I agree that the stakeholder policies were supported by facts and did what they could to ensure integrity and honesty. That being said, I pose a slight disagreement/questions to something you said: Did the EPA really respond to aggressively regarding the “oil industry being replaced”. I’m sure they made claims similar to that, but I think if you read a little more, you’ll find they were simply trying to draw out the argument by responding more incessantly than needed, just to achieve a greater and quicker response from the president. You would find this article interesting in retrospect with your blog: http://www.usnews.com/opinion/blogs/on-energy/2012/08/23/the-real-reason-obamas-epa-targets-oil-coal-and-natural-gas .

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